The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

70.
Speech by John Andrew Jackson Delivered at the Scottish Exhibition of Arts and Manufactures Connected with Architecture, Glasgow, Scotland 2 June 1857

The British antislavery public displayed an increasing appetite for information about plantation life. Audiences flocked to hear both the polished analytical speeches of former slaves-turned-professional and the rough-hewn, anecdotal narratives of fugitives such as Canadian former slave John Andrew Jackson. Jackson traveled to England in the mid- 1850s and lived in London until he returned to the United States following the Civil War. He lectured throughout Britain to raise money to purchase his father and his sister's children, who were slaves in South Carolina. In the spring of 1857, Jackson toured Scotland, giving well- attended lectures at Edinburgh, Stirling, and Glasgow. At eight o'clock on Tuesday evening, 2 June 1857, Jackson spoke before a large and attentive audience in the rooms of the Scottish Exhibition of Arts and Manufactures Connected with Architecture at 93 Bath Street in Glasgow. The meeting chairman introduced Jackson by reading testimonials from Edinburgh clergymen. Jackson then addressed the audience in "the peculiar broken dialect of the negro." His wife, a former North Carolina slave described as an "interesting-looking creole," accompanied him on the platform. Blassingame, Slave Testimony, 513; CN, 30 May, 6 June 1857; John Andrew Jackson, The Experience of a Slave in South Carolina ( London, 1862), 32.

On Tuesday evening last, Mr. J. A. Jackson, 1 a fugitive slave, delivered a lecture in the Scottish Exhibition Rooms, Bath Street, illustrative of the evils of slavery, and gave a history of his own bondage and escape from the horrors of the "peculiar institution." The chairman, having read several testimonials from Edinburgh clergymen, introduced the lecturer. Mr. Jackson is an intelligent-looking black, in the prime of life; and although his command of the English language is far from perfect, yet in the peculiar broken dialect of the negro, he [did] "A round, unvarnished tale deliver" of his captivity and escape, and was easily understood. His object is to raise sufficient money to purchase the freedom of his father, and sister's children, who are still under the lash in South Carolina, and already 500 dollars have been raised for that purpose. In the course of his lecture he told a thrilling tale of a noble slave named Dred. This negro was remarkably tall and powerful--standing nearly seven feet high, and was driver of a gang of slaves on a southern plantation. Owing to his excellent management, everything went on well. He raised the best

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